The water regime of a landscape commutes more and more between the extremes drought or flooding.
The type of vegetation and land use plays an important role in water retention and runoff. Together with scientists from the UK and the US, researchers from the Leibniz- Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) have developed a mathematical model that can reflect the complex interplays between vegetation, soil and water regimes. They show, for example, that in beech forests water is increasingly cycled between soil and vegetation to increase evaporation to the atmosphere, while grass cover promotes groundwater recharge.
With the developed model EcH2o-iso the researchers can quantify where, how and for how long water is stored and released in the landscape. The model helps to better predict the effects of land-use changes on the water balance under changing climatic conditions. In drought-prone areas in particular, this knowledge can help to develop land use strategies that increase the landscape's resistance to climate change and protect water resources.
"So far, the type of vegetation has been considered primarily with a view to preventing soil erosion. In view of more frequent extreme weather events such as droughts and floods, however, it is increasingly a question of which plants can be cultivated to control the retention or loss of water in the landscape," says Prof. Dörthe Tetzlaff, head of the study, leader of the research group “Landscape Ecohydrology“ at IGB and Professor in Ecohydrology at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin.
Continue reading at Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB)
Image via Lukas Kleine, IGB